In defence of Sarah Ferguson

Shut out by the ghastly Windsors, attacked by a Murdoch sting: in her search for a role, she has don

So, the tabloid press run by that passionate anti-monarchist, Rupert Murdoch, has returned today to doing what it does best -- other than attacking Labour leaders -- by exposing a pre-planned sting operation on a leading former member of the royal family.

Sarah Ferguson has apparently offered access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, in return for cash.

Friends of "Andrew" are lining up to condemn her in a rather ugly fashion, Digby Jones today branding her "delusional". And once more, this rather insecure woman is under fire.

Certainly it doesn't look good. She will, it appears, do anything to dent her vast overdraft, and is clearly not uninterested in making money. (The picture in the News of the World of her sitting with "eyes lit up" in front of a pile of cash is indeed troubling, though this seems to be another case, given the unethical practices that made the story work, of "He who is without sin should cast the first stone".)

Yet surely, it is time to spare a thought for the princess, who has long been cruelly sidelined by the ghastly Windsor family, which likes to call itself "The Firm" (I exempt the Queen, and the Queen alone, from any criticism).

"Fergie" has long tried to carve out a role for herself, after being used, abused and spat out by the royal family. Some of that work to make a new life has involved considerable contributions to the charity sector, as well as projects such as her books for children, which at least had the perception of being of some worth.

It should also be pointed out that it seems she has done nothing to break the law, and even in the seedy recorded videos the NotW has now produced, she goes well out of her way to defend her ex-husband as "whiter than white".

One can't help thinking that, if you get on the wrong side of the Windsors and the Murdochs, you must be doing something right.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.